Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In tonight’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we’re going to dig into several songs from Bob Pressner’s new release, ‘Everyman.’ He’s a veteran performer with several notable accolades to his name, including the release of a Comcast on-demand concert and a significant online following, both on YouTube and social networking. ‘Everyman’ is his attempt to elevate his craft and he cites it as a ‘captivating mix of classic rock and Americana.’ It the album worth checking out? Let’s find out.
We’ll start at the first logical place, the title track. Immediately, ‘Everyman’ is reminiscent of Americana and earlier country rock. The music is lyrically focused and the instrumentation is rather simplistic. I dig the musical brevity; it allows Pressner to hold the spotlight throughout with his delivery. “My tangled heart needs a brand new start,” Pressner croons with a heartfelt honesty. The somber track is an excellent one, though it doesn’t necessarily set a tone for the rest of Pressner’s album.
The dark atmosphere of the title track is quickly abandoned for a carefree, folksy sound on ‘California.’ This tune may very well be Pressner’s strongest, elegantly combining pop sensibility with cascading acoustic guitars and reverb-soaked vocals. The production is also top notch; Pressner will be an incredibly rewarding listening experience on a good sound system. Sometimes, the bright nature of ‘California’ backfires with stray notes that have too much timbre, but it’s barely noticeable amidst a superb performance.
Pressner attributes his successful endeavors to his conscious decision to ‘be himself.’ As cliche as that may sound, it’s a mentality that has served Pressner admirably. ‘Be Yourself’ seems to be an ode that train of thought, accented nicely with sparse violin instrumentation and a sea of acoustic guitars. I actually dig his abandonment of a traditional set-up; there isn’t a bass or percussion at play here. Pressner seems to float above the massive wave of acoustic guitars - they set the rhythm, and any added instruments would have just bogged down the song.
Finally, let’s take a look at ‘American Dream.’ Insert electric guitar and a cynical, perhaps frighteningly accurate view of the ‘American Dream.’ I’m actually intrigued by the concept of the song; it’s a theme that artists like Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen have been toying with at an ever increasing rate in recent years. Pressner tackles some realistic hesitations about the current state of his country. Surprisingly, even with the induction of electric guitar, I still didn’t find myself missing any form of traditional percussion.
Bob Pressner is a traditional Americana act. He’s down in the dirt, realistic, and relatable. That same relatability makes each of his songs resonate with the listener to varying degrees. That’s exactly what a good Americana artist should do. Thus, I’d wholly recommend checking out the full twelve-track outing based on these four pieces. Connect with Pressner and grab his new record below.